The Oglethorpe women's basketball team wound up the extremely difficult three-game portion of its non-conference schedule Tuesday by going toe-to-toe with No. 16 Transylvania for 30 minutes. However, a poor shooting second half ended Oglethorpe's chances of an upset and the visiting Pioneers escaped with a 65-54 victory.
The Stormy Petrels led by as many as eight points a couple of times, once in each half. After Oglethorpe held a 25-17 leading with 10:55 left in the opening stanza, Transylvania came back to lead by as many as six with 5:29 left in the period. However, the Petrels answered back and turned that scoreline around, taking a six-point lead of their own, 38-32, into the halftime break. Then after Oglethorpe scored the first basket of the second half to take a 40-32 lead, the Pioneers answered and would not relinquish the lead this time, building their advantage to as many as 14 points late in the game before winding up with an 11-point win.
The Petrels shot 41.7 percent from the field in the first half, including 50 percent from three-point range. However, they shot just 25 percent and 10 percent in the second half, respectively. They held Transylvania to just 35.4 percent from the field and 9.5 percent from long range for the game, but they turned the ball over 22 times to the Pioneers' 11 and attempted seven free throws to the visitors' 25. Transylvania also outscored the Petrels 21-5 on the fast break.
The home side got another very good performance from junior guard Emily Buck, who scored 18 points on 3-of-10 three-point shooting and grabbed six rebounds. Sophomore forward Ciaira Hughes also put forth another solid effort, leading the team with 16 rebounds, two blocks and two steals while collecting six points.
The Petrels started the game firing on all cylinders, taking it to their ranked opponent in the early-going. After the two teams traded baskets for a time, the Petrels went on a 12-6 run over a five-minute span to take their largest lead of the half, 25-17, with 10:55 left. The Pioneers answered with a big run of their own, embarking on a 14-0 spurt over the next 5:30 to take their six-point advantage, 31-25, with 5:29 left in the first. However, Oglethorpe answered back with another huge stretch to end the half, going on a 13-1 run over the remainder of the period to take a 38-32 lead into the break. Buck scored 14 of her eventual 18 points in the first, going 5-for-9 from the field overall and 3-for-6 from three-point range over the course of the period. Meanwhile, Hughes grabbed 10 of her rebounds in the opening period and went 3-of-5 from the field.
The Petrels extended that run to 15-1 to begin the second half, equaling their largest lead of the game with a 40-32 advantage with 18:24 remaining. However, Transylvania took over from there and their depth showed down the stretch. The Petrels were unable to string together back-to-back baskets throughout the second half, and the Pioneers finished on a 33-14 run after Oglethorpe took the eight-point lead.
"We continue to improve every time out," said Head Coach Alex Richey. "For 28 minutes, we looked terrific and had some great contribuitions from players off the bench, too. These last two games against ranked opponents should be a stepping stone for us the rest of the season, which starts in earnest now with conference play coming up. We're looking forward to seeing what we're made of."
The loss drops the Petrels to 5-7 on the season, and they'll begin the main portion of SAA play next Friday at 6 p.m., when No. 23 Rhodes comes to town, marking three ranked opponents in a row if the Lynx can hold onto their ranking in next week's D3hoops.com poll. They'll complete the home SAA weekend when they battle Hendrix at 1 p.m. next Sunday.